Every once in a while, I am reminded of just how much the world has changed from when I was a kid.

The latest reminder was when our 12-week-old kitten, Thurston, chewed through the lace on one of my husband’s new shoes and I looked for a new lace to replace it.

I bought Phil the shoes this past summer after researching footwear that keeps one’s feet cool but have good support. You know, the shoes that look like part shoe, part sandal and are pretty pricey but in the long run, worth it.

Anyway, the shoe laces are stretchy and have a clip and, I have learned, one can not find the shoelaces in a store.

“Oh, no,” a friend told me. “You have to order them online.”

So I went to the company’s website and looked up shoelaces, but could not find the orange and brown ones that matched the one Thurston chewed in half. Thurston is orange and white, by the way, and very clever.

I could not locate the shoe laces on the website, which said if one has difficulty doing so to take a photo of the shoe and laces and email it back to the company. So I did that after propping Phil’s shoe up on the window sill and snapping a photo with my cellphone.

I did not hear back for several days, so I found the company’s phone number on its website and called.

A nice woman told me she would mail me a pair of free laces, though the orange and brown laces were no longer available so she would send solid brown. I thanked her profusely and thought the company very customer-friendly for offering free laces.

By the way, she said, it would take between 20 and 30 business days before we would receive the shoelaces. We could get them faster if we ordered them on the company’s website, but, hey, I was getting them for nothing, so why would I complain?

For the next two weeks, Phil’s shoes sat on the top shelf of his closet, safe from Thurston’s razor-sharp eyes and teeth. We couldn’t afford to lose another shoelace if it was this hard to find a replacement.

After two weeks, a package arrived in the mail from the shoe company containing two, brand new, brown shoelaces and with them, a long list of instructions on how to lace your shoes.

There are six steps to lacing each, and to do so, you must use a pair of pliers and a small, flat screwdriver, according to the instructions.

The instructions list not only how to put the laces on the shoe, but also the parts enclosed. Parts?

Besides the laces themselves, which you have to cut to size, there are two lace joint guides, two lace slide locks and two lace joint caps.

Color photos of the process are included in the directions, but if you have trouble, the instructions say, you may call customer service at the number listed or watch an instructional video on YouTube.

I’m glad that Phil is going to lace these shoes because I’m pretty sure I’d mess it up. It’s all too complicated for me (and besides, he’s the one with the pliers and screwdriver).

Phil asked whether I thought he should remove both old laces and put the new brown ones on or just replace the orange and brown one and wear mismatched laces.

I told him that, judging by the elaborate process he must go through to replace one lace, I favored replacing only the chewed-up one.

But then I decided it would look pretty strange for him to be wearing one brown and orange lace and one brown. I changed my mind.

“But for God’s sake, don’t lose the spare orange and brown one!” I cried.

It’s been a week since the laces arrived in the mail, and Phil has yet to put them on the shoes.

With summer over, he probably won’t wear them very much anyway, until next summer that is.

Whatever happened to the days when, if the dog chewed through your shoelaces, you went downtown to Woolworth’s and bought a new pair for 5 or 10 cents?

Whoever would have thought you’d have to get on a computer, send a photo of your shoe to the company, wait a month for the laces to come and then borrow a backhoe to maneuver the laces through the shoes before securing them with pliers and a screwdriver?

I guess we’re going to have to store those shoes in a safe place for the winter, seeing as how they’ve become such precious cargo.

In the meantime, maybe somebody’ll invent the same shoe that works just as well, sans laces.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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